People who have known me for a long time would label me a foodie. So for me to admit that I have cans of Progresso Tomato soup in my pantry is what we would call a deployment confession. Something you would say to your Deployment Sister over the phone after one to many glasses of wine. Lucky for you I’m sharing my secret. Four weeks ago our Governor put our little island in the Pacific into a hard lock down. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and home depot were the only thing open we only had one day’s notice not nearly enough time to stock up on my usual wine and cheddar habbit. After a week she reopened banks, and construction. (Lucky me considering I’m in the middle of the epic house addition) On Guam there aren’t many grocery stores. When we went back into lockdown getting into a store takes effort especially the military commissary. The line became so long every day an enterprising young military spouse started a facebook group about the length of the car line so you could gage if you wanted to spend an hour in line in your car, and another hour waiting outside. Between my efforts to maintain my own lockdown and valuing my free time a bit too much I have decided to forgo the lines. As a result I’m entering week 5 without going to the grocery store. Okay now before you think I’m crazy prepper lady, I do still pickup a bag of local fresh produce once a week that are tossed in my car from a safe social distance. If you are on Guam check out Guahan Sustainable Culture to order your bag. So I’m only like 60% crazy prepper lady. I’ve done pretty well so far but meals take planning.
We come to this evening. Guam is in the middle of Monsoon season. Each evening I move my lovely egg producing hens Bertha, Bonnie, Betsy and Beth to a more secure cage away from predators. Well when the Monsoon and relocation time coincide you end up looking like a drowned rat. After a nice hot shower I was confronted with kitchen counters full of my multi-day efforts of jars of canned dill pickles, eggplant, and all the assorted dishes that go with it. I resolved I wouldn’t be eating dinner, there were no left overs in the fridge, and definitely no salad fixings which is my usual go to lazy meal.
Hanging out with Harry the cat. I remembered that can of Progresso Creamy Tomato with Basil Soup in my Typhoon locker. I thought to myself I can just heat that up, add a few crackers and maybe for some spice try out that new seasoning I had gotten in the mail today. In my family gifts are always spice or honey related, and we go out of our way to find each other exotic spices. My brother lives in Glenwood Springs, CO and there’s a local company there Roaring Fork spice company and he’s brought me some of their blends on occasions. Well 2 weeks ago in a fit of jealousy over the gratuitous pictures from my husband Mike’s, Trader Joe’s cart I went online and low and behold they ship to Guam. I went a little crazy but their spicy goodness showed up today and I was itching to try one of their creations.
I always love a good can of soup so many possibilities. I always remember that book from when I was a kid Stone Soup. I loved how everyone came together to make and share a real meal. As I got ready to pop the top and heat up the soup, I thought wait I’m not that tired I could add a little seasoning. I know I still have at least one un-sprouted clove of garlic that didn’t make it into my dill pickles today, and there must be an unmolded shallot here somewhere. Okay at this point I’ve decided I’m going to take my time so I pull up youtube and find my favorite zen band Tinariwen . Mike and I discovered them when we were on a trip to Morocco. Our Berber tour guides Hassan and Mohammed from Morocco Country Side Tours played their music as we drove across the barren Sahara Dessert. Following my love of spice Hassan even pulled over on the side of the mountain where I found out wild rosemary grew there. All three guys helped me pick wild rosemary that day.
As I was chopping up the garlic and the shallot I thought, you know instead of sautéing these in olive oil a little bacon would go a long way. I braved the fridge to find my last two slices of bacon from a frozen pack I had been eeking along for weeks. Piles of long beans fell to the floor and I about had a heart attack as my last quart of milk fell. I caught it just in time, and truly began to understanding of the saying “don’t cry over spilt milk”. Bacon was quickly chopped and sautéed in my small soup pot. I added the shallots and garlic. The aroma was delicious and I found myself finally unwinding from my wet chicken experience. I then cracked the can of Progresso and slid it into the pot. I opened my fresh bottle of Emperor Italian Blend from Roaring Fork Spice Co. I felt myself transported back to my kitchen in Arco Felice outside of Naples making fresh pasta sauce with the tomatoes from the hills of Vesuvius.
At this point I decided cheez-its weren’t going to cut it. I had this prebake discounted Italian rustic loaf I had been limping along for afternoon bruschetta. I cut through the tough exterior and had four slices grilling in my cast iron pan with olive oil and a bit of salt. Crap Basil. We need something green. Short of sprouting greens, leafy greens were a thing of my past. Even in the 3 inches a day of monsoon rain of Guam Basil grows like a champ. I slid on my sandals and braved the rain in my nightgown to pick some leaves. This is when I heard my girls clucking and it reminded me to add something else to my soup. My old Barred Rock hen Emmie and I have been in a battle of wills for about 2 weeks she’s decided she likes the taste of her eggs. It’s a daily race to see who gets to her egg first after she lays it. Today I mostly won the battle it had one small peck in it but it had to be used today. I went back in and quickly cracked that egg into the soup letting it soft boil in that bubbly goodness.
Finally, I decided a little cheese was called for. So Guam is notorious for not being able to get European products. Our military commissary gets in real Parmesan blocks and when they do I go Black Friday crazy and fill my cart. On any given day there’s at least 30 blocks of Parmesan in my freezer. I started to shred the Parmesan and I remembered walking through the Parmesan caves outside of Bologna Italy one Fall day, not quite 18 month cheese but it would do.
Well a meal like this now has gone from sit in front of the TV…to treat yourself you’ve earned it. I pulled out my favorite rice bowl made by a sweet old lady in Ferndale, CA. My mom bought her stuff regularly and I fell in love with it when I met her at the Ferndale city wide yardsale. I pulled out one of my entertaining wine glasses and yeah I filled it with Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon the good bottled wine having disappeared early in the lockdown.
The soup was done I ladled it and my egg into a bowl topped it with Parmesan and lots of fresh basil. Dipped the crusty Italian bread in the soup and sat down and enjoyed a delightful bowl of Progresso with my boxed wine. As I sat enjoying my music, my soup, and my wine, little green eyes peered at me at the sliding door. I opened it and in the pouring rain my boonie kitties and frogs waited for their dinner as well. I did not disappoint my charges, they were given abundant handfuls of kitty food.